The Stirling family held the estates of Keir, near Dunblane, and Cadder in the north of Glasgow from the 15th and 16th centuries respectively. Their involvement in Jamaica began in the 18th century. The then head of the family, Sir James Stirling (1679-1749), had 22 children and many were forced to emigrate to support themselves. Several of Jamesí sons and their descendants went to Jamaica as merchants and planters. Their estates produced sugar and rum.
The Stirlings had high hopes that their Jamaican estates of Frontier and Hampden would be extremely profitable but the harsh working environment, riots and insurrections ensured that the estates were never as profitable as they had expected.
The emancipation of slaves which occurred in 1833 quickly made the estates unprofitable. The estates were eventually sold by Sir William Stirling-Maxwell (1818-1878) in the 1850s.
The following image is the Mortgage of Lands and Slaves between Robert Stirling and his brother, Archibald Stirling, 20 July 1750. The lands mortgaged consisted of a sugar plantation in the parish of St Thomas, in Jamaica, and the mortgage includes a schedule of slaves sold with the land. The original is located at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. (T-SK9/8/1)
The following is a sketch of the house owned by the Stirlings of Keir on the Hampden plantation in Jamaica. The orginal is located at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. (T-SK22/15)
Alan L. Karras published a book named "Sojourners In The Sun - Scottish Migrants in Jamaica and the Chesapeake, 1740-1800 in 1992. The book was published by Cornell University. Much of the information in the book is taken from the estate papers, ledgers, and other materials on the Hampden and other Keir estates in Jamaica.